Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Orson Scott Card Weighs In On ID

arroba Email

In a most excellent article one of the modern greats of science fiction weighs in on the controversy between ID and Darwinian evolution.

Read Creation and Evolution in the Schools by Orson Scott Card.

Bombadill, That's pretty funny. I guess Ashby Camp gets the last word, unless Theobald happens to be working on a rejoinder to the rebuttal of the response to the critique of the article. :-) watchmaker
http://www.trueorigin.org/ca_ac_01.asp Check. ;) Bombadill
Thanks Guys. I'll check out "talk origins" and continue my search for any evidence for macro-evolution. Believe it or not, I've been reading websites, blogs and journals for close to two years and have not read one thing that constitutes scientifc evidence for macro-evolution. I'll report back. I'm sure you all can hardly wait. :) Saxe saxe17
My response might be a genetic fallacy but in this case the source says more than enough. ;) I'd rather read the evidence/data myself instead of relying on Talk Origins, thank you very much. Patrick
And if you read the critique, be sure to read the rebuttal of the critique: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/camp.html Your move, Bombadill. :-) watchmaker
If you read watchmaker's article, be sure to also read it's critique: http://www.trueorigins.org/theobald1a.asp Bombadill
Saxe, There is a section called "29+ Evidences for Macroevolution -- The Scientific Case for Common Descent" at talkorigins.org: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/ watchmaker
Patrick, Thanks anyway. Saxe saxe17
There was a list of peer-reviewed articles I found posted a while back on a different forum. From the brief descriptions I think I have read some of those articles in the past. Needless to say the ones I have read did not impress me very much. Unfortunately the person who posted the list hadn't read many of the articles himself (I think I had read more, actually). He couldn't say which one provided the best evidence for his assertion that the articles did indeed document cases of macro-evolution. To read it all you'd also have to have a subscription to multiple magazines. Some might not even be available on the internet. Anyway, I can post the list if you want it. Patrick
Dave, I had earlier asked you for references providing evidence supporting macro-evolution. You asked me to read Behe’s book, which I will do. However, I’m wondering if there might be a better resource more devoted to macro-evolution evidence than Behe’s book? For example, Behe states "I have no quarrel with the idea of common descent, and continue to think it explains similarities among species.” Behe’s statement does appear to be a statement of faith. He looks at similarity and concludes evolution. It seems to me that one could just as easily see similarity and conclude a creator. Someone might see a creator that would use the same basic structures for all life and would therefore see a creator in all the many similarities. If there is evidence for macro-evolution, Behe doesn’t appear to state it. Anyway, I am more interested in the evidence itself. Sorry to bother you again with this question, but is there a good source that lays out actual scientific evidence for macro-evolution? In other words, are there documented scientific observations or experiments that demonstrate macro-evolution? Thanks Again, Saxe saxe17
His personal faith-based opinion isn't his scientific opinion. Are we promoting ID as science or faith here? If it's faith I'm outta here. DaveScot
Dave, Dembski & Behe make it clear that macro-evolution is perfectly compatible with ID. However, Dembski's personal position is one which rejects this notion. You can read about it here: http://www.designinference.com/documents/2004.06.Human_Origins.pdf My point being simply that there are respected intellectuals and scientists who are highly skeptical of macro-evolution, regardless of the mechanism. So, we shouldn't be too quick to point the finger of ridicule at those who question it. Bombadill
Bullet If I didn't disagree with 7 I wouldn't be here. The evidence of design is overwhelming. Nowhere in recorded history has a machine been observed that wasn't of intelligent origin. Cells are filled with machines that perform specific functions for the cell. The Darwinists have been trying for 150 years to convince people the appearance of design is an illusion. They've failed. The complex molecular machinery inside even the simplest cell was their undoing. DaveScot
Using the very tactics he himself has listed, he expects us to believe he's an honest intellectual. I'm not buying it. If (7) were indeed true, the first six tactics would not be necessary at all. Bullet
Dave, I think your anaology hits it on the head. :) Saxe saxe17
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 = 7 Wow, what a lovely trick! I'm impressed. Bullet
Saxe I read the Worldmag article you linked. It was kind of tedious and off topic until the end. Then there's a really good point about scientists not being the ones to define what is and isn't science. It should be philosophers of science doing the defining. That caught me off guard too. Dembski has a PhD in the philosophy of science, interestingly enough. So WTF are scientists doing telling him what is and isn't science? That's like foxes telling farmers how to build chicken coops, isn't it? Thanks for pointing that out to me. DaveScot
Saxe re philosophy of science book recommendation I was being flippant. Sorry. Just go to wiki and follow all the hyperlinks until you get your fill. There's very little reason in this day & age to kill trees for basic information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_science DaveScot
Dave, Will do. Do you recommend any particular book on the philosophy of science? Is there one perhaps that isn't written by a scientist? I recently read this article that caught me off guard. http://www.worldmag.com/displayarticle.cfm?id=11428 I'm not trying to be snotty, by the way, but Dr. Dewberry is inclining me to believe that perhaps scientists shouldn't be defining what is and what isn’t science. If the rules (metaphysical vs. physical, etc.) are in fact philosophical and not scientific, why should scientists be the rulers of a philosophical game? Dr. Newberry is seems to be on to something when he says “At the dawn of modern science, it was the Catholic Church that argued that the authority of science rested with the community of practitioners (theirs, of course). It was the Copernicans, especially Galileo, who argued that the authority of science and truth rested with the individual scientist. Moving the authority of science to the individual scientist was one of the key steps in the Copernican Revolution and the foundation of modern science. We have essentially come full circle. We just replaced one priesthood for another. We have returned to the model of authority of the medieval Catholic Church.” Thank You, Saxe saxe17
Just for the record, Dembski on common descent: http://www.theism.net/article/16
More significantly for the educational curriculum, however, is that intelligent design has no stake in living things coming together suddenly in their present form. To be sure, intelligent design leaves that as a possibility. But intelligent design is also fully compatible with large-scale evolution over the course of natural history, all the way up to what biologists refer to as "common descent" (i.e., the full genealogical interconnectedness of all organisms). If our best science tells us that living things came together gradually over a long evolutionary history and that all living things are related by common descent, then so be it. Intelligent design can live with this result and indeed live with it cheerfully.
My emphasis. Our best science does indeed tell us that all living things are related by common descent. What our best science doesn't tell us is that random mutation is the source of all modification. Random mutation's seemingly miraculous power to create everything we've observed as of the year of our Lord 2006 is a load of crap - a grand extrapolation which might have been justified 100 years ago when it was thought that the fossil record would eventually fully support Darwin and before we knew how incredibly complex and interdependent the various molecular subsystems are in even the simplest living cell. Random mutation has been exposed as woefully inadequate to explain all that. live with it cheerfully... I'm not feeling the cheer from some folks here. :-) DaveScot
Saxe Start out by reading Behe's "Darwin's Black Box". There are no proofs in science by the way. You should probably also pick up a book on the philosophy of science while you're at it. Get back to me when you've done that. DaveScot
Red You are wrong. You are still conflating macro-evolution with unguided evolution. Here are the words straight from Behe's mouth and they're EXACTLY what I've been trying to explain to you. Dembski's position is quite similar to Behe's. They're both on the same page.
http://www.arn.org/docs/behe/mb_dm11496.htm Behe: I want to be explicit about what I am, and am not, questioning. The word "evolution" carries many associations. Usually it means common descent -- the idea that all organisms living and dead are related by common ancestry. I have no quarrel with the idea of common descent, and continue to think it explains similarities among species. By itself, however, common descent doesn't explain the vast differences among species. That's where Darwin's mechanism comes in. "Evolution" also sometimes implies that random mutation and natural selection powered the changes in life. The idea is that just by chance an animal was born that was slightly faster or stronger than its siblings. Its descendants inherited the change and eventually won the contest of survival over the descendants of other members of the species. Over time, repetition of the process resulted in great changes -- and, indeed, wholly different animals.
My emphasis. If you want to argue further about this write to Michael Behe and tell him he really does have a quarrel with the idea of common descent. You've taken up all the bandwidth on this thread I'm going to allow on it. DaveScot
Did anyone catch this STUNNING article in NewScientist about plants emitting methane? http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/mg18925342.600 A bit off-topic, but none the less staggering. Saxe saxe17
Yes, but there are myriad eggs, chicken, lizard, fish, preying mantis, etc. But not an "everything" egg. jacktone
Dave What evidence do you use to prove that macroevolution is "settled science"? Can you give me some resources (web sites, papers, books, etc.) which site evidence used in your proofs? In other words, please direct me to resources that would debunk the theory that the human body, for example, wasn't designed in a day instead of billions of years. Respectfully, Saxe saxe17
Dave, I appreciate your conviction and I understand how important it is to you. But I'm with Dr. Dembski on this. I've read Denton and Behe and they are convincing. In my opinion, the concept of "irreducible complexity" simply nukes in toto the concept of macro-evolution. For analogy, the design of Da Vinci's "Last Supper" and its production are complete in one life time. All of Da Vinci's paintings bear a striking resemblance, but the one painting on the wall of the dining hall of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan was drawn from raw materials right then and there: he didn't assemble parts of paintings he had gathered from elsewhere. Micro-evolution, I agree all day long. It's a fact, no question. We see it in action on every cattle ranch in Texas. (I'm from Texas.) Red Reader
P.S. This is a wonderful discussion and typifies what I want to see, especially under my own articles. I deleted two comments that appeared to be headed towards a dispute about the historical accuracy of the bible. The comments were off-topic and needlessly inflammatory. I understand the desire of both parties to defend their faith (or lack thereof) but take it offline if you just have to get into it. DaveScot
Bling Natural selection isn't even operative in small isolated populations. It's overwhelmed by genetic drift. To say that speciation is the result of natural selection exhibits shallow depth of knowledge regarding the modern synthesis. Genetic drift absent natural selection is quite capable of speciation in principle if not in fact. The question is whether there's any new information required for speciation or is it just a matter of rearranging the deck chairs. It looks to me like most speciation is a mere rearrangement of the deck chairs - a different expression of information that was already there in the genome in question. In any case, the bottom line remains that no one has observed RM+NS creating any novel cell type, tissue type, organ, or body plan. It's an huge extrapolation to assign RM+NS massive creative power never once observed in over a century of trying to observe it in nature or reproduce it in a laboratory. DaveScot
Red I don't like to be so blunt but if the ID movement doesn't get its head & tail wired together and accept as settled science that evolution happened, that only the mechanism of random mutation as the sole source of variation is in dispute, then its doomed to the dustbin of history. A million scientists aren't entirely wrong. They got a lot of the story right. Their only error is foisting a notion that evolution is an unguided, unplanned process. That's purely a dogmatic concoction driven by an atheistic worldview and in denial of some very compelling evidence to the contrary - namely the patterns in the machinery of life which defy explanation by any plausible unintelligent self-assembly mechanism. Maybe such mechanism will be discovered in the future but for the nonce the benefit of doubt must go to design in any rational, objective analysis. DaveScot
Bombadill & Jacktone As an agnostic I'm a bit skeptical of everything including direct H.Sapiens descent from ape-like ancestors. It seems incredibly likely though given the molecular and physiologic homologies with extant chimps & such. Every living thing we have examined shares a virtually and practically identical genetic code too. That's strong scientific evidence. That's tough to plausibly explain away by anything other than common descent from a universal common ancestor. One can logically show that common descent is indistinguishable from common design but unless one can show some empirical evidence for common design it's not going to be very credible. On the other hand everything in our experience with living tissue shows an unbroken cell line. Omne vivo ex ovum - everything comes from an egg. Empirically that's undeniable and there's absolutely no empirical evidence I know of that even hints at anything other than an unbroken ancestral cell line behind every living thing. Granted it's an extrapolation to go back farther in time than people have been observing organisms reproducing and recording what they observed. DaveScot
[Inflammatory rhetoric deleted.] On second thought, Bling, your post was filled with needlessly inflammatory rhetoric directed at people of faith. That has no place here. You're on probation as of now. All your comments will be scrutinized before they post. I'll be watching. -ds Bling Bling
Dave, I understand what you are saying and it's reasonable. But, I agree with jacktone about Michael Denton's argument that the theory is in crisis. When we stick *strictly* to the facts--what we can observe and test--we find that "descent with modification" is no more than an (indeed very sophisticated) *extraplation* which can be a method error. We may be convinced that the evidence we observe confirms our extrapolation, but until we can observe the suspected process, then it is really no better than any other theory that comports to the observations. It even may be a useful philosophical construct. But, other constructs may also be useful. Let's examine them all. ID does NOT extrapolate. Design is detectable. Specification infers intelligence. It is what it is. In a finished product we do not see the tools and methods used by the builder. In the Pyramids of Egypt, ID detects intelligent design and intelligent construction, but does not suggest *how* the pyramids were built. And doesn't need to. The common characteristics and/or molecular structures found in disparate organisms may be evidence of "Designer Reuse" rather than common descent. .... P.S. The suggestion that I may be "laughed at" because I doubt common descent is not a motivator. E.O. Wilson and David Hawpe both have been quoted recently here at UD using the fear tactics of ridicule and threat-of-loss-of-credibility to pursuade KM Darwinists (Ken Miller Darwinists) to "stay in the fold" so to speak. To me, it is sad that someone could be pursuaded that way. Red Reader
That's a good explanation, Dave. Thanks for that. Keep in mind though, that Dembski rejects (or at best is HIGHLY skeptical) of descent with modification of humans from hominids - http://www.designinference.com/documents/2004.06.Human_Origins.pdf Bombadill
"The evidence in support of descent with modification from a universal common ancestor over the course of billions of years is compelling." At the risk of being chuckled at myself I ask, what evidence? What was it that Michael Denton was talking about if not the lack of evidence for this idea? jacktone
Red I think you're conflating macro-evolution with Darwinian evolution. The evidence in support of descent with modification from a universal common ancestor over the course of billions of years is compelling. Logically arguable but practically undeniable. If you argue against that you get laughed at and I'll be hard pressed to suppress a chuckle myself. However, descent with modification over billions of years from a common ancestor doesn't speak to whether the process was guided or unguided, planned or unplanned. Here there is compelling evidence, focused upon most famously and contemporaneously by Dembski and Behe, that there almost certainly must be planning and guidance required to produce some of the complex patterns we find in the machinery of life. The source of the planning and guidance may well be outside the scope of science and there's no scientific evidence to lead us in any particular direction. But detecting a design and identifying the source of design are two different things and the former is in no way dependent on the latter. DaveScot
I also think his books all suxxors except for Prentice Alvin and Xenocide. jaredl
Card's a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. jaredl
Red Reader said: "Mr. Card DOESN’T say he is a “traditional Judeo-Christian believer”." He doesn't say that, because he's not. He's a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (IE:mormon.) M J
jactone, you are right. Mr. Card's first six critiques of Darwinian Dogmatism was stellar point on and very useful. But then in his 7th, he makes this statement that he thinks everyone can agree with. .... If both sides would behave like scientists, there wouldn't even be a controversy, because everyone would agree on this statement: Evolution happens and obviously happened in the natural world, and natural selection plays a role in it. But we do not have adequate theories *YET* to explain completely how evolution works and worked at the biochemical level. .... I added emphasis to the word *YET*. Putting the YET in there is the very leap of faith Mr. Card goes on to decry. He confuses "micro" evolution which DOES occur and IS observed with "macro" evolution the existence of which is based ENTIRELY on EXTRAPOLATION. (Extrapolation is a very serious error because extrapolation is the method by which one may conclude that the earth is flat. "The earth is flat as far as I can see, so it must be flat BEYOND what I can see.") Mr. Card, I love your books; my kids love your books. Here is the statement without the YET and its implications I think I COULD agree with. .... Micro-evolution obviously happens in the natural world and natural selection plays a role in it. But we do not have adequate theories to explain how macro-evolution may have worked at the chemical-biochemical level. All theories that are based on observation, mathematics and physics that account for what all scientists agree is evidence of design in nature should be taken seriously and examined on their merits. .... One final note that may be helpful to those who try to understand ID objections based on where they are coming from: I refer back to Dr. D's "Vise Strategy" document at http://www.designinference.com/documents/2005.11.Vise_Strategy.pdf page 3. Mr. Card appears to be closely related to the KM Darwinist (a Kenneth Miller Darwinist). "The KM Darwinist is a traditional Judeo-Christian believer who holds that God has acted miraculously in salvation history (with such miracles as the parting of the Red Sea, the resurrection of Christ, the Virgin Birth, etc.) but denies that God’s activity in natural history is scientifically detectable. The Kenneth Miller Darwinist is an orthodox religious believer and an orthodox Darwinist. He is the poster child for the Eugenie Scott Darwinist." Mr. Card DOESN'T say he is a "traditional Judeo-Christian believer". But he falls into that class with this: "...what do I believe about the origin of life? I believe that God created it, employing and obeying natural laws, but at levels beyond our understanding. I believe we're here on this earth for God's beneficent purposes." Of the three identified "Darwinist types", only the KM Darwinist asserts there is "purpose" in the universe. Red Reader
Seems like he missed Mr. Dembski's argument about design being detectable in his response to point 7. Design doesn't happen without a Designer. If the "science" (undefined in this article) detects design, then there can be nothing "unscientific" to acknowledge His existence. jacktone
If, as Card says, both sides are engaging in faith arguments, then shouldn't other factors outside of the hard sciences be allowed to tip the balance in favor of either ID or neo-Darwinism? Why is a layperson wrong to evaluate the scientific evidence in light of historical records (say, the Bible), common sense, human experience and logical arguments? By definition this takes one out of the realm of pure science, but since when did pure science become the only means of knowing things? It seems to me that even scientists, after they've gone back billions of years for answers, will find themselves unable to explain everything (origin of the universe, natural laws, etc.). If they can acknowledge that there are ultimate limits to what is knoweable, how are they justified in dismissing what might have occured (design)? russ
Card is only a superb author, but has his thinking cap is well and truly on and functioning in the case of ID. I really enjoyed 'Ender's Game.' I recently noticed another favourite science fiction author of mine, Avery Axton, has began to incorporate what I feel must be references to ID in his novellas and short stories, specifically his new 'Xeo Woolfe' series. My apologies to Avery if this is a wrong impression - perhaps I am just projecting. In any case - they're a really fun read and you can get them online at www.xeowoolfe.com Thanks, Bruce Bruce

Leave a Reply